Welcome To Driftmaster – An Interview With David Baynard
Editor’s Note: If you’ve ever fished for striped bass, catfish, crappie or bream, the chances are pretty good that you’re familiar with Driftmaster rod holders. With over 25 years experience making quality fishing products, the roots of Driftmaster remain exactly where they’ve always been—providing their customers with durable, reliable tools so that anglers can enjoy their time on the water. In the first of a series of articles to show fishermen how to get the most out of their products, Driftmaster president David Baynard gives us a behind-the-scenes look at a proud, small time manufacturing company that fishes for a living.
Question: David, how did you come to be in the rod holder business?
David: The idea started with my dad, Calvin Baynard, and one of his friends, Tom Thaxton who was a guide here on the Santee-Cooper Lakes. Back then, most of the guides fished for landlocked striped bass, catfish, or crappie and they needed a way to man multiple rods while they were fishing. The idea to create a suitable rod holder came out of necessity and my dad started producing the first of what has become Driftmaster rod holders. Over the years, the business grew from a small garage business to a well known and respected name in the fishing industry.
Question: And now you’re the head of this huge empire—Black River Tools, with three manufacturing divisions?
David: (laughing) Hardly. We have had to move out of Dad’s garage, but only about 50 feet away. We’re still just a small town company located in Manning, South Carolina that makes rod holders, bird feeders, and hand held garden hoes. Dad still lives in the house across the driveway and my wife and I live on the backside of the property next to my oldest son. I guess when you say we live and breathe this stuff, we really do. We live here, we work here, and our whole family is involved in the business.
Question: Has your customer focus changed since your humble beginnings?
David: When I took over the day-to-day operations from Dad, we began expanding our product line with the idea that we wanted to make our rod holders as generic as possible so that they would fit on a number of different boats and a number of different applications. We currently have 7 different styles of rod holders that come in two different diameters and are either left or right hand threaded. When you add into the mix the number of different rod holder base styles, trolling racks, and the variety of lengths that our rod holders come in, we feel we can meet the vast majority of needs of our customers. However, we still get calls from fishermen across the country asking for something to fit their specific needs and we do our best to provide that for them too. We place the highest value on what our customers want and we get a lot of ideas for new products from our customer’s requests.
Question: In a market full of cheaper plastic rod holders, why do you still make Driftmaster products out of metal?
David: We build our products to last. Not only that, I have to think about how my customers would feel if one of my products caused them to lose the fish of a lifetime or one of today’s expensive rod and reel outfits. There are enough variables in fishing without a fisherman having to deal with a broken rod holder. We put our products through a hammer test. Basically I’ll take a new product and beat it with a hammer to see if it can take the abuse that it’s going to get with a big fish on the line or the weight of a full grown man in an open boat on rough water. I tell people that we make ball bearings, not computer chips. They’re simple in design, durable and they get the job done when you need them.
For more information on Driftmaster products, check out our line of products at your local dealer or spend some time surfing our website at www.driftmaster.com. Be sure to check back to get valuable tips and techniques from our customers and pro-staff to help you get the most out of your time on the water.